Synaptic Connections between GABAergic Elements and Serotonergic Terminals or Projecting Neurons in the Ventrolateral Orbital Cortex

F. Q Huo, T Chen, B. C Lv, J Wang, T Zhang, C. L Qu, Y. Q Li and J. S. Tang

Cerebral Cortex, 2009, 19(6), 1263-1272. DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhn169


The ventrolateral orbital cortex (VLO) is part of an endogenous analgesic system, consisting of the spinal cord–thalamic nucleus submedius–VLO periaqueductal gray (PAG)–spinal cord loop. The present study examined morphological connections of GABAergic (-aminobutyric acidergic) neurons and serotonergic projection terminals from the dorsal raphe nucleus (DR), as well as the relationship between GABAergic terminals and VLO neurons projecting to the PAG, by using anterograde and retrograde tracing combined with immunofluorescence, immunohistochemistry, and electron microscopy methods. Results indicate that the majority (93%) of GABAergic neurons in the VLO also express the 5-HT1A (5-hydroxytryptamine 1A) receptor, and serotonergic terminals originating from the DR nucleus made symmetrical synapses with GABAergic neuronal cell bodies and dendrites within the VLO. GABAergic terminals also made symmetrical synapses with neurons expressing GABAA receptors and projecting to the PAG. These results suggest that a local neuronal circuit, consisting of 5-HTergic terminals, GABAergic interneurons, and projection neurons, exists in the VLO, and provides morphological evidence for the hypothesis that GABAergic modulation is involved in 5-HT1A receptor activation-evoked antinociception.

ASCI-ID: 1079-24